Cognac + Lemon: The Sidecar & Chilli Lemon Couscous

We got real fancy with last Friday’s Cocktail Happy Hour that I would highly encourage you to add this drink + bites to your hours of happiness this week.

Playing off a French theme with Cognac, our Tiki-loving bartender (awesome neighbor friend, who happens to be obsessed with tiki-inspired things) decided the Sidecar cocktail was our drink of choice. And what’s better than drinking cocktails next door during a pandemic? Dressing up to drink like you have some place special to go during a pandemic! And that’s exactly what we did.

My fiancé and I sipping sweet Sidecars in our French-inspired attire.

 

 

This week’s theme and pairing: Cognac + Lemon

The Sidecar cocktail paired with Chili Lemon Couscous with pistachios and grapes.

Bonus recipe: Impossible Meatballs

 

First, before we do anything, we have to make our cocktails!

 

 

Now that our drinks are in hand, we can think about food.

We enjoyed quite a few fun dishes with our Sidecars: Chili Lemon Couscous, Chicken Meatballs, Vegan Meatballs (these were incredible!), baked Brie encased in phyllo dough and berry jam. Absolutely all bites were decadent and delicious.

Sidecar with Chili Lemon Couscous, chicken meatballs and the best vegan meatballs ever!

The Sidecar

This French themed cocktail is both tart and delightfully "dry" and features cognac, orange liqueur and fresh lemon juice. A perfect way to try something different with fortified cognac, a high-quality brandy, properly that distilled in Cognac in western France. Nothing is fancier than this cocktail. 😉
Course Drinks
Cuisine French
Servings 1 cocktail

Ingredients
  

  • 1 oz lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1 oz triple sec or other orange liqueur (like Cointreau)
  • 2 oz cognac

Instructions
 

  • Add the cognac, triple sec, and lemon juice to a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
  • Strain into a glass.
  • Garnish with an orange or lemon rind.
Keyword cocktail, happy hour, cocktail hour, sidecar, cognac, lemon, lemon cocktail

Chili Lemon Couscous

Quick and easy couscous recipe that is a true crowd-pleaser. Slightly spicy with red pepper flakes and Thai sweet chili sauce, and tangy with lemon zest, this is your recipe for a delicious side made in less than 15 minutes.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients
  

  • cups water
  • 1 lemon zested
  • 2 tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce 
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • 2 cups couscous
  • ½ cup toasted nuts (pine nuts, pistachios, almonds, etc) roughly chopped
  • 1 cup red grapes sliced in half
  • ½ cup mint or cilantro (or a mix of both) roughly chopped
  • black pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • In a medium saucepan, add water, lemon rind, Thai sweet chili sauce, salt, chili flakes and bring water to a boil.
  • Once water is boiling, remove from heat and stir in couscous.
  • Cover and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, remove cover from couscous and fluff with a fork.
  • Add couscous to large bowl. Top with chopped pistachios (or nut of choice), grapes, and herb of choice.
  • Right before serving, toss and taste - adjust to your liking. Sometimes I add in more salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, more chili sauce, or juice from ½ the lemon.
  • Serve warm or cold and enjoy!
Keyword couscous, chili, lemon, side, pistachios

And since the vegan meatballs that were brought to the cocktail hour were SO good, I figured I’d have to share the recipe.

Impossible Vegan Meatballs

This is hands down one of the best meatball dishes I've ever had - vegan or not! Be sure to let the onions cook down to really caramelize them, giving them a wonderful flavor. These meatballs can be enjoyed on their own or with your favorite bread or couscous recipe to soak up all the incredible flavors from the onion thyme cheese sauce.
To make these as a real meat version use ground chicken with a beaten egg into the meatball base, gruyere instead of the plant based Parmesan, and real butter in the onion mixture. You can also use whatever kind of broth you want in the onions.
Both are equally mouth-watering!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients
  

For the Impossible meatballs

  • 1 lb Impossible "beef"
  • ½ cup vegan shredded Parmesan
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste

For the Onion Thyme Cheese Sauce

  • 4 tbsp vegan butter
  • 2 large yellow onions thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp salt or to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup vegan Parmesan

Instructions
 

"Meatballs"

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and rub with olive oil.
  • In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients.
  • Form into 16 balls, then place on prepared baking sheet and bake until cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Onion Thyme Cheese Sauce

  • While the meatballs cooks, melt the vegan butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add onions and cook until very soft golden, about 25 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add garlic and cook another minute until fragrant. Add broth and thyme, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  • Add meatballs to skillet, cover with remaining cheese.
  • Cover and let cook until meatballs are warmed through and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
Keyword meatballs, vegan, vegan meatballs, impossible beef, cheese, parmesan, dinner, side

Cheers!

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